Ballard Berkeley

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Ballard Berkeley
Ballard Berkeley.gif
Born Ballard Blascheck
6 August 1903
Margate, Kent, England, UK
Died 16 January 1988 (aged 84)
London, England, UK
Occupation Actor
Years active 1930-1988

Ballard Berkeley (born Ballard Blascheck; 6 August 1903 – 16 January 1988) was an English actor of stage and screen. He played Major Gowen in the British television sitcom Fawlty Towers.

Life and career[edit]

The son of Joseph and Beatrice Blascheck, he was born in Margate, Kent. He served as a Special Constable with the Metropolitan Police during World War II, witnessing the Blitz at first hand.[1] For this service he received the Defence Medal and the Special Constabulary Long Service Medal.

Berkeley played the role of the bumbling Major Gowen in the BBC TV comedy Fawlty Towers.[2][3] He had played a similar role in 1969 in the legal drama The Main Chance. He portrayed another retired military man (Colonel Freddie Danby) in BBC Radio 4's The Archers, taking over the role from Norman Shelley.

He played a starring role in Fresh Fields as main character Hester's father Guy, was Uncle Greville in To the Manor Born, and played Colonel Culpepper in Terry and June. He had small roles in a 1977 episode of Citizen Smith and the 1980 adaptation of Little Lord Fauntleroy, and appeared once in The New Avengers as Colonel Foster in the episode "Dirtier by the Dozen". He had a small role in the BBC sitcom Hi de Hi series five episode "Empty Saddles"

During the 1930s, he performed regularly in the so-called "quota quickies". One of his earliest roles was as the heroic lead in the 1937 film The Last Adventurers.[4] He appeared in the 1942 film In Which We Serve – he also appeared in the Hitchcock film Stage Fright. In 1956, he starred as Detective Inspector Berkeley in one episode of Edgar Lustgarten's drama series, Scotland Yard, "Person Unknown". He made a brief appearance in the American film National Lampoon's European Vacation which starred Chevy Chase. In this film, Berkeley played a British man who is involved in a minor road accident with the Griswalds.

Berkeley later performed the role of Winston - a similar character to "The Major" - in the radio comedy Wrinkles by Doug Naylor and Rob Grant. He played Badedas the Blue, a wizard in the radio comedy series Hordes of the Things. His last role was as the Head of the Army in the animated film version of Roald Dahl's The BFG. He died in 1988, and the film was released the following year.[citation needed]

Selected filmography[edit]


  1. ^ Profile,; accessed 30 August 2014.
  2. ^ Slide, Anthony (1996). Some Joe you don't know: an American biographical guide to 100 British television personalities. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 21. ISBN 0-313-29550-6. 
  3. ^ Terrace, Vincent (1985). Encyclopedia of Television Series, Pilots and Specials: 1974-1984. VNR AG. p. 141. ISBN 0-918432-61-8. 
  4. ^ Profile,; accessed 30 August 2014.

External links[edit]